poetryrepairs 16.02:016

DeANNA STEPHENS (Featured Poet) : The Little Fire
DeANNA STEPHENS (Featured Poet) : Elements

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DeANNA STEPHENS (Featured Poet)
The Little Fire

outgrows the scintilla, lone cell from my father’s cigarette, snuffed twelve years ago. I met one summer its antecedent enfolding leaves in bonfire tongues, crowning maples and sumacs that circled the house of his birth, that year of flame and cicada-cry. The fire engine sluiced light from the trees; insects harbored live cinders in their eyes, back to sanctum of earth and rhizome, deeper, still, to veins of coal that blackened my grandfather’s lungs and fed the flame’s equation beneath my feet. After years, the chorus recurred, and I kissed a man in the pre-dawn vacancy of oaks. The fire loved its aura in sunless fissures, had remade its image, cavern after cleft, until cities burned belowground. Barefoot, I could not feel it, but it flickered into corners of each season, lit new stars at the edge of my right eye, and struck a wildfire in the catacombs of breast and gut that I might confuse for hunger. The wink in my left breast, an unused duct, might be a lipid star shooting dusky sparks to lymph nodes and brain. In the dark, our separate childhoods, hands clamping the makeshift x-ray of a flashlight’s beam, my lover and I labored to trace bones and tendons in the lava glow, belying the fallacy that fire needs open air. Discovery forever tempts him to call fire! in blackened theaters and opens my library books to the fickle combustion of widows in near-empty beds. I blame the blood the way I blame trees for nudging an empty field where yesterday nothing flickered. They should have known the adage is flawed. Nature feeds propinquity, blood revisits familiar chambers, and fire pantomimes old scenes: The vacant plot, too wistfully edged in deadfall and darkness, quickens the breath and cigarette glow, summons lightning and the grievance of falling stars.

poetryrepairs #221 16.02:016

DeANNA STEPHENS (Featured Poet)

His wife opened a wave, in the green marsh of blankets, called him back with a billow, a clout echoing sky, cave, sea chasm. And the tide reminded him of parachute taming— the grade-school sport of shaping a muscled nylon cloud whose edges could rapture a gaggle of fourth-grade girls for seconds above the gymnasium floor, dangle them in the pore-less, gray lung—a cycle of such lungs, rising from untried biceps— and hide the girls’ panting, their re-formed earthiness, from God. How the girls had marveled in the warm and tenuous breath; how the boys had admired the intertwining locks of hair, the wide-eyed compression, and the girls’ collective quiet as they clustered beneath that labored half-world. The celadon wave enfolded him, dressed in dry-cleaned slacks. Dishevelment and wasted daylight hissed amnestically in his ear, laved, now, in her darkness and deaf to the dog barking a grander escape, to the unstacked cords of firewood flinging the yard’s harmony into pond and hollow, to all commotion but the desiccated sigh of mimosa fronds and maple leaves pending in gutters. They fishhooked him, flailing, as if stung, and wordless. In a squall, his arms re-opened the wave, and he said he could not lie all morning, not sleeping, yet not quite awake. Before rising utterly, he faltered across sheets, tendrils of her hair gasping after him, an artifact newly washed ashore.

poetryrepairs #221 16.02:016


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DeANNA STEPHENS (Featured Poet)

DeANNA STEPHENS (Featured Poet)